Healthcare IT pros on optimizing EHR, what’s important in bringing in new tech

You may have seen a couple of recent posts about our latest research report: Behind the EHR: Healthcare's hidden heroes of patient experience. We had a chance to engage more than 200 healthcare IT professionals about a variety of topics including their expanding roles, the increasing complexity of healthcare IT tech and how technology decisions are made.

One of the things the research highlighted was that being a healthcare IT professional means a lot more than managing the EHR system. Many of those we surveyed say their roles increasingly involve using tech to ensure better patient outcomes, to streamline the patient financial experience, and improve the rate of patient collections. Yet, all these expanded responsibilities depend on technology – the EHR system to be specific.

Traditional IT responsibilities don’t go away

Even though healthcare IT professionals are taking on new responsibilities, their traditional IT responsibilities remain, and continue to increase in complexity. Whether it’s EPIC, Cerner or another EHR system, healthcare IT pros have to manage hybrid EHR environments, keep systems upgraded, consolidate disparate applications, show ROI, and maintain high security as connection points to the EHR increase.

According to our survey, the biggest overall challenges managing an EHR system include: (respondents could pick more than one):

  • Integration with other systems – 55%
  • Security issues/concerns – 45%
  • Staffing issues – 38%
  • Training users – 37%
  • Cost of maintenance – 34%
  • Moving to the cloud – 27%
  • Lack of usability – 21%

In the words of one survey respondent, “Staying on top of upgrades while maintaining high patient satisfaction and wellbeing is challenging.”

As their responsibilities expand, healthcare IT pros are split on how early they should be involved in sourcing new tech. A little more than half (55%) want to be the ones to source new technologies being added to their department's stack, while the balance (45%) prefer for departments to bring them technology to evaluate. Similarly, when it comes to third party technology that will impact the EHR system, 56% want to be brought into the process as early as possible. 44% are happy to be brought in after initial discussions have happened.

Regardless, when it involves bringing new tech into their EHR landscape, there is tight alignment on what’s important:

  • Tight integrations with EHR – 97%
  • A feature set that aligns with goals – 95%
  • Proven success with similar clients – 95%
  • Streamlined implementation – 95%

Extending the EHR to streamline patient payment processes

In our experience working with providers, these priorities are entirely consistent. And we would add a few more when it comes to complementing the capabilities of the EHR system to optimize the patient financial experience, e.g.:

  • The consolidation of charges from individual service providers onto a single statement so patients can see everything they are responsible for in one place. This provides patients with a better understanding of their financial responsibility and a better chance of full collection.
  • A modern, self-service digital experience where patients can view all their statements and pay their bills.
  • Convenient payment options and tailored payment installment plans to make payments easier and more affordable.
  • Transparency to all scheduled patients, expanding efforts to increase collections, minimize no shows, and reduce staff workloads.
  • Predictive analytics to personalize patient communications and payment plan offers tailored to each patient’s individual needs. This not only reduces collection costs, but also increases patient satisfaction.
  • Proactive engagement through the patient’s preferred communication methods for appointment reminders, explanation of their out-of-pocket expenses, and convenient options to make an initial payment or select a payment plan.

All these factors can help drive important improvements in the patient financial experience – an increased rate of patient payments, an increased percentage of digital and unassisted payments, higher patient satisfaction ratings, higher Net Promoter Scores, and an increase in the number of payments collected via automated payment plans.

There is a lot more about the priorities of healthcare IT professionals in the free report which you can view here.